Parents with school-aged children, and especially those whose kids show strong interest in mathematics and science, received some welcome news earlier this week when an international survey showed Japan's education rankings in those subjects to be among the world's best.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015 Global Study, released Tuesday by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement's (IEA's) international study center at Boston College, saw Japanese fourth-grade elementary students ranked fifth among students in 49 countries in math and third among 47 countries in science. Japanese eighth-grade students (second-year junior high school students) were ranked fifth out of 39 countries in math, and second in science.

Singapore went to the head of the class in all categories, scoring the top ranking in both math and science at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels. South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong were also among the top five in all categories. Russian fourth-graders cracked the top five in science, and finished sixth, behind Japan, in eighth-grade math.